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Author Topic: Cleaning A Turtle / Skinning A Turtle  (Read 36032 times)

Offline Gutpiles

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Cleaning A Turtle / Skinning A Turtle
« on: May 14, 2005, 12:40:43 PM »
All information and pictures contained in this section are the property of Big58cal and may not be reproduced in whole or in part, without written permission from the man himself.    

 Great Work BC!!!!!!!

CLEANING A TURTLE
Start with a turtle (snapping or soft-shell), a pair of pliers, and a good sharp knife or two.  Itís also best to do this first step on a hard, clean surface.  Take the pliers and pop the turtle on the end of the nose to get it to open its mouth.  TAKE CARE TO NOT LET THE TURTLE BITE YOU!!!  Use the pliers to grab the turtleís bottom jaw.  Take a foot and stand on the turtleís shell and pull their head out.  Start cutting the head off, right behind the head.  Once youíve got it cut all the way around, twist the pliers to break the neck.  Pitch the head in your gut bucket, but be careful getting it off your pliers.  The head will still bite you!



Once the head is cut off, have a clean, hard surface to start working on.  Flip the turtle onto itís back and let it bleed out for a little bit.  If thereís any dirt, grass, etc on the underside of the turtle or in itís toe nails, take a water hose and wash all of it off.
 




OK, notice the leg?  Itís there for a purpose!  Take the pliers and grab each foot of the turtle right at the toe nails.  Cut the foot off at the first joint past the toes.  The is all cartilage, so youíll be able to cut through it pretty easy with your knife.  If you run into trouble cutting, youíre not hitting the joint.  Throw your leg up on the turtle to keep it in place while youíre doing this.  Cut all 4 feet off.



Once you finish cutting the feet off, this is what youíll have.  Itís important to cut the feet off because those toe nails really hurt when youíre skinning the critter!




Take your knife and cut through the skin all the way around the shell.  Youíre cutting the skin loose from the breast plate and the shell.  Once you get this done, itís best to change knives.  I usually keep 1 knife for cutting the head and feet off, and other for skinning.  Cutting through the skin, bone, cartilage, etc. really dulls a knife.  Have a good sharp knife for skinning, which is going to be your next step.



Keep taking the skin off a little at a time.  Donít think that this will be an easy process either!  The turtle will still be kicking and fighting you, so it will take a little while.  Do one side and then the other.  Just be patient and keep working at it.



Once you get the skin off, this is what youíll have.  On larger turtles, try to skin out the tail as much as possible as there is a lot of meat on it.



The next step is to take the breast plate off.  With a snapping turtle, you can cut through the sides of the breast plate where it attaches onto the sides of the shell, as illustrated in the picture.  With a soft-shell turtle, there are two bones on each side that need to be cut through.  Use a set of cutters (wire cutters work well) to cut through the bones to remove the breast plate.



Pull up the breast plate, cutting the meat loose as you go.  Cut to approximately the center and then do the other side.



Once the breast plate is off, now itís time to start getting the chunks of meat loose.  Cut the membranes and such in the center to expose the intestines, lungs, heart, etc.  Next, grab a leg and pull up on it, exposing the inside of the shell.  Take your knife and start cutting the meat loose from the shell.  Youíll need to do this all the way around both the front and back pieces.



Keep cutting the piece loose from the shell, paying attention to the area near where the spine attaches to the shell.




Once you get the piece pretty well cut loose, get a good grip on it with one hand and the shell with the other hand.  Twist the chunk of meat in one direction and the shell in the other direction to break the bones connecting it to the shell.




Repeat the above process of cutting loose and ultimately twisting loose with the back piece.




The picture below shows twisting the back piece loose.




Once the front and back pieces are out of the shell, now start to work on the ďtenderloinĒ pieces that run down the center of the shell.  These two pieces are guarded by bones (see picture below) and are somewhat difficult to get out, but well worth it.  Take a set of cutters (again, wire cutters work well) and cut the bones on each side, right and left, for each piece of tenderloin.  Once the bones are cut through, cut them off with your knife.  Next is to cut the meat loose from the shell.  Take it slow and youíll get quite a bit of meat off of these pieces.




When youíre finished, youíll end up with the two tenderloins, and two large chunks of meat.  The larger chunks can be cut into at least 3 pieces each.  With the back piece, cut the legs loose through the hip joints.  The front piece will be pretty easy to see where to cut at to free the legs from the neck.  If the turtle was fairly large, you may also want to cut the pieces again at a joint to make cooking easier.  If you desire also, you can fillet the meat off the bones.  On large turtles, this is recommended so youíll be assured of cooking all the way to the center on the larger pieces.  Also, on the center back piece, donít forget to remove the ďprivateĒ parts out of it.  For some reason, people tend to loose their appetite when they bite into this if you forgot to remove it!
















« Last Edit: October 31, 2008, 08:26:44 AM by Big58cal »
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Offline John Andrews

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Re: Cleaning a turtle
« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2005, 10:34:27 AM »
Good job! Your pictures and directions, plus safety tips, are most excellent! In warm weather we used to turtle trap and dress quite a few, somtimes over a hundred at a time. We used to nail the head to a tree or the barn and go at it.  After the first freeze when the ice was just thick enough to walk on close to shore, we used home forged steel turtle rods and took many mud buried hibernating turtles through the ice. It's an Indian thing. Everyone joined in the turtle cleaning, and sometimes it was an all day chore with at least 10 or 12 people dressing the turtles. The wives and girls did the washing and meat packageing, the men and boys did the actual cleaning.  :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
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Offline Big58cal

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Re: Cleaning a turtle
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2005, 07:34:43 PM »
Pretty cool GP! :mrgreen:  Thanks for getting the file posted.  It's getting turtle season now.  I caught one Saturday that made the mistake of crossing the road when I was passing by! :twisted:

If anyone has any questions about anything, feel free to ask.  Turtle cleaning is becoming a lost art anymore.  Of all of the wild critters out there, I would just about have fried turtle as anything............Including deer tenderloin or wild turkey breast! :shock:
The only purpose of bread is to hold meat!

John Andrews Is My Hero!

In all seriousness, the Marlin is a great rifle, too. I own a Model 60, one of the best rifles ever made.
Brownings are nice, but in terms of quality AND accuarcy AND ruggedness, it's hard to beat the Marlin.
California sucks that's it.

Offline John Andrews

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Re: Cleaning a turtle
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2006, 09:20:03 AM »
Another good thing about BC's turtle cleaning instructions is the fact that BC is showing you the proper way to clean a turtle without having to rush to the ER for a bunch of stitches.  O0  O0  O0
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